Adam Silver

Southeast Notes: Randle, Magic, Heat, Silver Talks Hawks

Magic reserve point guard Chasson Randle, who signed a two-way contract with the club in February, helped shore up the Orlando bench’s ball-handling and shooting needs, writes Roy Parry of the Orlando Sentinel. In 41 games with Orlando (including five starts), Randle averaged 6.5 PPG, 2.0 RPG, 1.8 APG and 0.5 SPG across just 20.4 MPG. He posted a slash line of .388/.338/.792. Randle, 27, played for the Sixers, Knicks, and Warriors prior to his Magic tenure.

There’s more out of the Southeast Division:

  • The Magic announced their intentions to enter full rebuild mode with a trio of trades this season, dealing veterans Nikola Vučević, Aaron Gordon and Evan Fournier for young players and future draft equity. In a mailbag, Josh Robbins of The Athletic takes a look at timelines for the team’s rebuild and hiring a new head coach, plus other items. Robbins anticipates that the Magic will take as long as they need to accrue players with All-NBA ceilings, and that they’re in better position to take a chance on a more inexperienced coach than some other “win-now” clubs with similar vacancies.
  • The Heat took a disappointing step backwards this season, regressing from a 2020 Finals appearance to a first-round playoff sweep in 2021. Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald examines practical options for improving the club should it opt to use cap space, among them signing veteran Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry. Jackson also takes a look at roster additions Miami could make if it decides to continue operating over the salary cap.
  • NBA commissioner Adam Silver spoke with Sarah K. Spencer of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution about the rising Hawks and their best player, point guard Trae Young. “It’s part and parcel of professional sports that there’s invariably a passing of the torch,” Silver said of Young’s ascent. “Trae, I’ve said, is one of them, and it’s an incredible opportunity for this new generation of stars to perform on the biggest stage and in front of an enormous global audience.” Silver also mentioned that, in light of the 2021 All-Star game transpiring in Atlanta mid-pandemic, the league was keeping Atlanta in mind as a destination for a more normal future contest. “The answer is a resounding yes, that was always part of the understanding with [owners Antony Ressler and Steven Price] that the league was very appreciative that they came through for us on relative short notice and agreed to host that All-Star game, and now of course talking to you after the fact, it was even, frankly, more successful than we thought it would have been.”

NBA Remains Interested In Midseason Tournament

After the new play-in tournament proved to be something of a ratings bonanza this week, the NBA appears hopeful that it can come to an agreement with the National Basketball Players’ Association about creating a midseason tournament, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Woj reports that NBA commissioner Adam Silver thinks the league will be able to convince the rest of the Board of Governors (comprising Silver, the owners of all 30 teams, and their representatives) to bring the concept to a vote down the road. The midseason tournament idea had previously not made it to the voting stage when it was considered before the pandemic.

Two-thirds of team owners would need to support the measure for it to be enacted. The earliest a midseason tournament could be implemented now would be the 2022/23 season.

Silver believes a midseason tournament will be able to help keep fans invested during a lengthy regular season that has sometimes struggled to maintain interest ahead of the playoffs. The original proposal also included a pitch to reduce the NBA regular season from 82 games to 78 in order to accommodate a midseason competition.

Previously, the league had been looking to model its midseason tournament around the structure that European football currently uses. The NBA was considering an eight-game single-elimination competition. Each player on the victorious squad would be rewarded with a $1MM payout, under this original proposal.

Adam Silver Talks Play-In, ’21/22 Start Date, Arena Capacities

During an appearance on Friday’s episode of Keyshawn, J-Will and Zubin on ESPN Radio (video link), NBA commissioner Adam Silver made it clear that his preference would be for the play-in tournament to be a mainstay for years to come, as long as the teams and players are on board.

“I haven’t made any secret that I want it to be (around long-term),” Silver said, per ESPN’s Tim Bontemps.

The Lakers/Warriors play-in game on Wednesday was a major ratings success, becoming ESPN’s most-watched NBA telecast since the 2019 Western Conference Finals, per a press release. Silver acknowledged that not all of this year’s play-in games have been on the same level as that one, but suggested that the positive effects of the play-in format go beyond this week’s TV ratings.

According to Silver, the format resulted in a higher quality of play – and stronger ratings – during the final few weeks of the regular season as teams battled for positioning in the standings.

“(It) was causing teams, who frankly otherwise may have thrown in the towel some number of weeks back, to fight for those last playoff spots,” Silver said.

Here’s more from the NBA commissioner:

  • Silver confirmed today that the NBA’s plan is for the 2021/22 season to begin at its usual time in October. That would mean two consecutive shorter-than-usual offseasons in 2020 and 2021, but Silver pointed out that the break this summer wouldn’t be as brief as it was a year ago.
  • Silver believes we could see sellout crowds – or close to it – for the NBA Finals in July, as Bontemps details. “I think it’s very possible that come July, when our Finals will be, you’ll see essentially full buildings,” Silver said. The commissioner, who added that “close to 80%” of the NBA’s players have received COVID-19 vaccinations, cautioned that the league will still be “fairly conservative” about filling seats on or near the court.
  • Silver took exception to the idea that the NBA needs its big-market teams to play well to be successful, suggesting that superstars like Giannis Antetokounmpo can turn even small-market clubs like the Bucks into marquee franchises (video link). He also explained why the NBA fined Hawks coach Nate McMillan for suggesting the league wants to see the Knicks do well: “Nate’s a veteran coach and he knows better. He’s trying to inspire his team to try and suggest the league would somehow prefer some teams over others, and it’s just not the case. He knows it and he’s just got a young team and wants to get them going.”

Silver Expects Return To Normal Next Season

After two straight seasons of COVID-19 disruptions, NBA commissioner Adam Silver expects things to return to normal for 2021/22, writes Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. Speaking at his annual All-Star weekend press conference, which was held virtually this year because of the virus, Silver said the league foresees a traditional October start for next season with little or no limits on attendance.

“I’m fairly optimistic, at this point, that we will be able to start on time,” he said. “Roughly half our teams have fans in their arenas right now and, if vaccines continue on the pace they are and they continue to be as effective as they have been against the virus and its variants, we’re hopeful that we’ll have relatively full arenas next season as well.”

Those plans don’t include the overseas trips that several teams usually make during the preseason. Silver said those won’t resume until at least 2022.

Silver also addressed the financial toll that COVID-19 has taken on the league, which had 171 games canceled last season and will lose at least 150 this year. Revenue projections for 2019/20 fell about $1.5 billion short, and similar losses are expected this season.

“Last season and this season has required a significant investment on the part of the team owners,” Silver said. “They accept that. Players will end up taking a reduction in salary this season because they are partners with the league and teams on revenue. League executives, team executives have all taken haircuts on their salary. But I think when we all step back, we all feel very fortunate to be working under these circumstances and my sense is the players feel the same way.”

Silver touched on several other topics during his session with reporters:

  • No “concrete plans” are in place to resume Summer League play this year in Las Vegas, Reynolds notes. The NBA Finals could finish as late as July 22, which is about when the Summer League usually wraps up. “I think we’re going to end up (with) maybe an abbreviated Summer League, mini-camps and other opportunities,” Silver said. “Everything’s on the table now.”
  • Silver has talked to NBPA Executive Director Michele Roberts about eliminating the one-and-done rule and allowing 18-year-olds to enter the NBA draft, Reynolds adds. The commissioner indicated the issue could be considered when a new Collective Bargaining Agreement is negotiated.
  • The NBA won’t require anyone to take the COVID-19 vaccine, but Silver believes “most players” will opt to get it, according to Tim Bontemps of ESPN. Bontemps points out that it’s a way for players to get away from frequent testing and mandatory quarantines. “My hunch is that most players ultimately will choose to get vaccinated,” Silver said. “They have to make personal decisions at the end of the day — and I take that very seriously, and I take concerns very seriously. But my sense is most (players) will, ultimately, decide it is in their interest to get vaccinated.”

COVID-19 Roundup: Silver, Vaccine, Restrictions, Flights, Postponements

The NBA has held discussions about players receiving COVID-19 vaccines in order to influence the general public, and the African-American community in particular, to do the same, Brian Windhorst of ESPN reports. Commissioner Adam Silver hopes the league can set an example and foster the belief that the vaccines are safe and effective.

“Several public health officials — and this is operating state by state right now — have suggested there would be a real public health benefit to getting some very high-profile African Americans vaccinated to demonstrate to the larger community that it is safe and effective,” Silver said.

Right now, NBA athletes are not eligible to receive the vaccines until they become more widely available. It has been suggested that players could volunteer at public distribution centers and receive the vaccine in that setting while encouraging the public to follow suit. Michele Roberts, the executive director of the National Basketball Players Association, has said that numerous players are hesitant about getting the vaccine.

We have more COVID-19 related news:

  • There’s been a mixed reaction to the recently-tightened health and safety protocols, according to Sean Highkin of Bleacher Report. Some players and coaches are resistant to the notion of having little to no contact with the outside world. Others say they have little choice. “If we don’t accept that that’s the way it has to be, we lose out on a lot of things. Our season, our health, our contracts, everything goes downhill if we don’t play by these rules,” Suns coach Monty Williams said.
  • In the same article, Highkin noted that 28 of the NBA’s 30 teams have a partnership with Delta Airlines, which has not mandated that its flight crews get tested for COVID-19 despite lobbying from the league’s medical leadership. Delta crew members must wear masks and can’t come within six feet of any NBA personnel, but several teams still refuse to eat on team planes.
  • The league is determined to continue playing despite a rash of postponements due to virus-related issues, Chris Hine of the Minneapolis Star Tribune writes. An unnamed Western Conference executive told ESPN’s Baxter Holmes that resistance to playing in another bubble-like environment made these issues inevitable. “Nobody wanting to go back to a long bubble period of play has put us in this position,” he said. “It is doable but sub-optimal.”

NBA Mulls Expansion But It’s Not “On The Front Burner”

Given the large loss of revenue due to the pandemic, NBA commissioner Adam Silver admits the league is taking the possibility of expansion more seriously, according to USA Today’s Chris Bumbaca.

“It’s sort of the manifest destiny of the league that you expand at some point,” Silver said. “I’d say it’s caused us to maybe dust off some of the analyses on the economic and competitive impacts of expansion. We’ve been putting a little bit more time into it than we were pre-pandemic. But certainly not to the point that expansion is on the front burner.”

Silver has dismissed expansion in recent years, as ESPN’s Tim Bontemps notes (Twitter link).

The league hasn’t added a team since Charlotte came into the league in 2004. Seattle lost its franchise to Oklahoma City in 2008. Seattle is expected to get heavy consideration for a new franchise if the league expands again.

One of the issues with expansion, according to Silver, is that the league is already struggling with competitive balance.

“It’s not a secret that we don’t have 30 competitive teams at any given time right now when you go into the season, measured by likelihood of ability to win a championship,” he said.

NBA To Expand Active Rosters, Permanently Adopt Coach’s Challenge

The NBA’s Competition Committee has unanimously recommended increasing the number of players who dress for games from 13 to 15 for the 2020/21 season, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link).

Additionally, the committee has recommended officially and permanently adopting the coach’s challenge, Charania adds in a separate tweet. An official coach’s challenge has been a long time coming, as it was eyed for the 2019/20 season and then implemented on a one-year trial basis.

The rules regarding coach’s challenges will remain unchanged for the time being. Two suggestions discussion by the Competition Committee included giving teams a second challenge if the first is successful, or allowing teams to get back their timeout after a successful challenge, per Charana.

The NBA’s Board of Governors (all 30 team owners, their representatives, and commissioner Adam Silver) are scheduled to meet on Dec. 17 to approve the changes.

With the season scheduled to begin on Dec. 22, approval of these changes would go into effect less than a week after the governors meet.

NBA Postpones All-Star Weekend In Indianapolis

The NBA and Pacers have postponed All-Star Weekend in Indianapolis, which was originally set to be held from February 12-14 in 2021, the league announced in a press release today.

The events have been re-scheduled for February 16-18, 2024, with the All-Star Game scheduled to commence on February 18. Plans for a revised 2021 All-Star Weekend will be announced at a later date.

“While we are disappointed that the NBA All-Star Game will not take place in Indianapolis in 2021, we are looking forward to the Pacers and the city hosting the game and surrounding events in 2024,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said.  “I want to thank [Pacers owner] Herb Simon, Steve Simon, Rick Fuson and the entire Pacers organization as well as the NBA All-Star 2021 Host Committee and the community of Indianapolis for working with us to reschedule our All-Star activities.”

Following 2021, Cleveland is set to host All-Star Weekend in 2022, with Salt Lake City hosting the events in 2023. The 2024 event would mark the second All-Star Game hosted by Indianapolis, with the first being held back in 1985.

“We are excited about the opportunity to bring Indiana the very best All-Star experience in 2024,” Simon said. “The efforts of so many Hoosiers to prepare for NBA All-Star 2021 put us ahead of the game for the hard work to come, and we are so grateful to the NBA for once again recognizing Indianapolis as a city that delivers world-class events.”

And-Ones: Social Justice Board, Boatright, Jazz, Moore

Carmelo Anthony, Avery Bradley, Sterling Brown, Donovan Mitchell and Karl-Anthony Towns are the players chosen to serve on the league’s Social Justice Coalition Board, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania (Twitter links).

The NBA and NBPA agreed to create the group to advance equality and social justice after teams walked out of games in late August to protest a police shooting. Commissioner Adam Silver, deputy commissioner Mark Tatum and NBPA executive director Michele Roberts, as well as owners Micky Arison, Steve Ballmer, Clay Bennett, Marc Lasry and Vivek Randadive and coaches Lloyd Pierce and Doc Rivers.

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • Ryan Boatright has signed with Lithuanian club team BC Rytas Vilnius, the team tweets. Boatright, 28, played in Europe last season after spending time in the G League during the 2018/19 season. The former University of Connecticut guard also played in Italy, China and Turkey.
  • The sale price of the Jazz bodes well for the league’s franchise valuations, Bill Shea of The Athletic notes. The team, along with an arena and a couple of minor-league teams, were sold to Qualtrics founder Ryan Smith for $1.66 billion, and the league’s owners are expected to approve the sale. The valuation falls in line with expectations and doesn’t reflect any pandemic discount, Shea continues. It also reinforces the notion that team values keep going up.
  • Former Pacers forward Ben Moore has signed with South East Melbourne Phoenix of Australia’s NBL, according to the team. Moore is expected to join the club for preseason training next month. Moore, who also spent time in the Spurs organization, logged two games with Indiana during the 2017/18 season.

Atlantic Notes: Davis, Kansas City, Hinkie, Adams

Raptors guard Terence Davis has entered a not guilty plea after being charged in New York with two counts of assault, harassment, endangering the welfare of a child and criminal mischief, Blake Murphy of The Athletic tweets. As The Athletic’s Eric Koreen writes, Davis’ girlfriend visited him at a Manhattan hotel and they allegedly got into a verbal argument. Davis allegedly hit his girlfriend in the face, then grabbed the victim’s phone and broke it. His next court date is December 11.

The Raptors issued a statement which read in part that they “take these issues very seriously, and we will fully cooperate and support the League in its investigation of this matter as we work to determine the appropriate next steps for our team.”

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas has made a pitch to NBA commissioner Adam Silver, lobbying to bring the Raptors to his city next season, Jonathan Concool of Basketball News relays. The Raptors may need to move their games out of Canada, much like baseball’s Blue Jays did this season, due to coronavirus-related travel restrictions. Kansas City has an arena fit for an NBA team and while Lucas insists he’s not trying to get the Toronto franchise to move there permanently, he’s hoping it would be a de facto “test run” to show the league the city is worthy of an NBA franchise, according to Sports Illustrated’s Ben Pickman.
  • Former Sixers executive Sam Hinkie believes his former team made a smart move by hiring Daryl Morey to run their basketball operations, he told ESPN’s Pablo Torre (hat tip to RealGM). “I think it’s great news. He’s not a good hire. He’s a great hire,” he said.  “It’s a really big move for the franchise. For a franchise I care a lot about. With a bunch of people I care a lot about.”
  • Brian Adams is joining Doc Rivers’ Sixers staff, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets. Adams worked under Rivers for both the Celtics and Clippers before a two-season stint as head coach of the Clippers’ G League team, Agua Caliente.